My time in London has come to an end, and I’m not sure it’s set in yet.

When you look forward to something for so long, you don’t believe it when it finally comes to an end. Life in London was far beyond anything I ever imagined.

I remember the first day we got here, anxious and jet-lagged, we stumbled down Hammersmith Road in search of caffeine. The different currencies, the accents, the “you alright?”: it all seemed so foreign. How the hell were we going to survive for 8 weeks in this huge city?

It took some getting use to, but after this summer London has become my home. I know the people at the Italian café down the road; I know the shortcut you take at the King’s Cross tube stop to get to the Northern Line more quickly, and I know what combination of sauces I like best at Nando’s. In two short months I’ve seen and learned so much, and I have London to thank.

I know I’ve been posting pretty regularly with my Joy Lists so some of this may be repetitive, but I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how much this summer has given me, and how much I’ve grown as a person because of it.

So thank you, London…

Thank you for introducing me to some of the most wonderful characters I’ve ever met with the most incredible stories. (the kind hearted street performer, the teenage producer with a passion for music, the Californian drag queen, the French au pair who snuck on to the red carpet, and the ex-football player who dreams of being a diver, just to name a few)

Thank you for teaching me that true travel isn’t taking guided tours every day. It’s about getting lost in the streets of a foreign country. It’s about eating the best food you can find & befriending strangers on a cross-country bus. It’s about walking 12 miles a day to explore, no matter how exhausted you are. It’s about laughing and learning with the people you love.

Thank you for teaching me that coffee should be about quality and not quantity. (Although that took some getting used to at first.)

Thank you for showing me that sometimes I’d rather go to a comedy club in Camden or a folk music pub in south London instead of going to a night club, and that’s ok.

Thank you for stroopwaffles, Rekorderlig, Yakult, tarte à la fraise, Dairy Milk bars and all the other snacks I’ll be heartbroken over losing when I go back to the States.

Thanks for the multiple passport stamps, because even though it’s slightly materialistic, it makes me happy to see them all.

Thank you for the wonderful batch of journalism nerds I was able to share this experience with, and thank you for Jimmy K, his selfie game is always going to be so much better than mine.

Thank you for showing me the beauty of traveling by train.

Thank you for teaching me that my age should not be an inhibitor. Ya, I’m a 20-year-old writer, and you know what? I’m a damn good one.

Thank you for always keeping me mesmerized. The day I become jaded in London is the day I’ve seen it all.

Thank you for giving me impossibly high standards for my future colleagues, and showing me your coworkers can be some of your best friends.

Thank you for Nando’s, it was rather cheeky.

On that note, thank you for Bailey’s, Pizza East, Byron’s, Picca and all the other great restaurants. I won’t even be angry you made me fat.

Thank you for your fantastic markets with vintage records. You’ve done immeasurable things for my collection.

Thank you for your unbelievable live music scene. You’ve made my heart incredibly happy.

Thank you for letting me take part in a week of love, acceptance, confidence, and rainbow cupcakes.

Thank you for giving me the chance to do what I love every day, with amazing people in an amazing city.

Thank you for the 50 minute bus rides home from Camden at 3 in the morning. Because even as painful as that sounds, I’d always meet the nicest, most fascinating people.

Thank you for showing me what I really want to do with my life. I’d convinced myself that I wanted to go in to fashion journalism, but now I know it has to be music. It’s always been music.

Thank you for the Sony Offices, Samsung Events, the UMAs, 5-star dinner reviews, professional interviews, and other opportunities I was probably woefully unworthy of.

Thank you for showing me that it’s ok to go without a phone for a few days. It’s liberating, even.

Thank you for showing me the glory that is street food. Food that is made from a tiny shack really shouldn’t taste that good, but OHMYGOD it does.

Thank you for making me laugh harder, sing louder, scream higher and dance weirder (I made up a word for the sake of symmetry) than I ever thought I could.

Thank you for showing me the unparalleled benefits that come from traveling. It’s more than Instagram photos and Bucket Lists. It’s about expanding our horizons and challenging ourselves in ways we never thought possible.

Thank you for making something so great that it hurts to say goodbye.

Goodbye, London. Thank you for everything.